Americas Stop Asian Hate

Asian Americans remember 2021 Atlanta shooting, unite vs racism, discrimination

By Cesar Antonio Nucum Jr

SAN FRANCISCO — Hundreds of Asian Americans nationwide came together in the cities of San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles and Atlanta to commemorate the third anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings and honor victims of hate, demand action, and build unity and solidarity in the face of racism and discrimination. 

This year’s events, “Stand Together: Remembering 3/16,” feature Asian American leaders, activists, artists and community members addressing anti-Asian hate, voter engagement, multiracial solidarity and mental health.

”Unity is our strongest response to racism, hate and violence. The anniversary of the Atlanta Spa shootings is a significant day for Asian American communities — to honor the lives lost and show the power of our communities by standing together,” stressed Justin Zhu, co-founder of Stand with Asian Americans, a lead organizer of events in San Francisco and New York City and a sponsor of other events, including in Atlanta.

Today, according to Pew, 58% of Asian Americans report experiencing discrimination, and Asian American communities face critical issues including workplace discrimination, mental health concerns, and lack of political representation. The national commemoration of the Atlanta spa shootings represents how Asian American communities are committed to turning shared experiences and trauma into power.

Events were held in Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco where Founder of Asians Are Strong Hudson Liao announced demands related to the death of Ms. Wu on behalf of the Asian Justice Movement. 

The San Francisco event held at Hotel Kabuki in Japantown featured musical performances, speakers on mental health and combating workplace discrimination, and voices of activists and survivors of anti-Asian hate.

 Speakers in the San Francisco event included Helen Zia, journalist, activist, founder of Vincent Chin Institute, Jennifer S. Cheng, poet and essayist, Hudson Liao, Founder, Asians Are Strong, Justin Zhu, Co-Founder, Stand with Asian Americans, and Filipina musician and spoken word artist Amihan who represented Filipinos in the event. 

“I want to echo the demand for Ms. Wu a recent victim of Asian hate,” Amihan started her talk. “Why is the City of San Francisco through Mayor London’s Breed budget putting up a million dollars to the police and sheriff’s office while basic services are being defunded, the basic services that are the very means of our community to be safe?”

“I am a daughter of migrants from the Philippines. My mother and my father were born and raised here in San Francisco and I want to share to you all my family’s history that hopefully will relate to all other families. I want to sing for all the mothers, daughters, sisters and grandmothers we lost in that shooting tree years ago in Atlanta,” reiterated Amihan.

Amihan is an emcee, vocalist, self-taught musician and producer born and raised in the Mission, SOMA and Excelsior districts of San Francisco. She creates hip hop & rnb music. Her unique sound incorporates live instrumentation with influences of neo-soul and jazz melodies over boom bap drums and hyphy 808s.

As an independent and self-managed artist, she dedicates her music and live performances to raising awareness of issues impacting Filipinos both in the Bay Area and in the homeland, while also fundraising donations for those communities. Amihans’ lyrics speak to themes of gentrification, past and present histories of colonization, as well as legacies of resistance.

Both her music and her work with Anakbayan Davis–a youth and student organization fighting for the liberation of our people in the homeland and the diaspora–she has connected our local struggles for social justice to the movement for national sovereignty in the Philippines.

Helen Zia writer activist and daughter of Chinese immigrants; launched; last year the Vincent Chin Institute too counter hate violence and promote solidarity. Her role as a leading activist in the landmark civil rights case of anti-Asian violence was featured on the Oscar-nominated documentary, “Who killed Vincent Chin?”

Hudson Liao founder and executive Director of Asians are Strong, a movement which aims to empower and protect the Asian American Community in the wake of senseless attacks scapegoating and hate incidents revealed that “in a meeting with acting commander of San Francisco Police Department, he provided no substantive information to our questions and refused our demand to release the video of the attack.

“Two days later there was information leaked to the press that incident was an accident. Just last week, the same person who killed Ms. Wu reportedly had attacked a 71-year-old Chinese woman sending her to the hospital,” stressed Liao. “We will not allow to gaslight these attacks anymore. Our people should be able to walk the streets of San Francisco in peace. Our Asian seniors should not worry being killed on accident or being murdered by someone having a bad day. Ms. Wu’s husband never believed it was an accident. He was only a block away when he saw his wife being shoved to the ground.”

Liao demands that the San Francisco Police Department release the video immediately. We want to know why you concluded that this was an accident when the husband of the deceased, an eyewitness said it was not.

“I can finally see the city can claim the rate of anti-Asian Hate has dropped by 90%. There are a lot of fewer hate crimes if you keep classifying them as accidents,” Liao sarcastically claim. “Go back to your country are the common words yelled at immigrants and their families. But not at San Francsico that leads with actions.  San Francisco will treat Asians so badly that you actually mean that you go back to your country. This is the case with Mr. Wu who has since went back home to China after his wife’s tragic death. And also the man who was dropkicked out of his wheelchair in 2020. He has also moved back home to China.”

“We will no longer let you ignore us and our demands for change. You have been stalling anti-Asian hate cases long enough and we know your tactics. We know what you are trying to do trying to drag these cases out as long as possible hoping we will forget and the public pressure will die down. But I am here to tell you it won’t. we won’t forget,” Liao angrily shouted. “We will not stop until justice is served. This is not the San Francisco I was born and raised in. and it will not be the San Francisco I will leave behind.”

The community has done its part. We held protests, rallies, marches, townhalls demanding the city to protect our community. We started patrolling Chinatown and escorting our seniors just so they can go grocery shopping. We needed to start self-defense classes so they feel a little bit safer.

But we cannot do this alone.  We need our elected city officials to step up and do something. We don’t need lip services and empty promises. And we definitely do not need fingerpointings  and blaming each other. What we do need is for you to raise your hand and take responsibility to fix these problems. Here are our demands:

Immediately release the video of the July 13 incident involving Ms. Wu.

Investigate Ms. Wu’s death as a homicide and a possible hate crime.

Investigate the attack on a 71-year-old woman on March 4 as a possible hate crime.

We demand justice! 

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, came with San Francisco City’s Police Chief William Scott, impressed that “the way that you deal with some of the challenges is of course making sure that there are open lines of communication.”

“And in fact we have invested millions of dollars into ambassadors and senior escort programs we can provide you with details of that.  But my goal is to work with the community in any way that could be helpful and to help make sure that people are safe and supported and that is all I ever want to do. And programs like the self-help for the elderly and community center are just two of the programs within the Asian community that I have strong working relationship with. And they have been instrumental in helping us to draft an anti-Asian hate.

Breed confirmed reports that last year was a decline in Asian hate rate by over 75%. These is the police, this is a number of nonprofit organizations that we worked with, and of course it had lot it probably has a lot to do with a lot of people who are. People who are working to help in combatting a lot of the issues and we have to keep working together to make sure there is justice and accountability and that what I am here to do.  

Event organizers, sponsors and supporters in the commemoration included Stand with Asian Americans, the Asian Justice Movement, the Georgia AAPI Caucus, Advancing Justice–Atlanta, Dear Community, the Korean Cultural Center-Atlanta, Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Coalition, Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center, Asian Youth Center, Rosemead Park & Recreation, Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment, OCA – Greater Los Angeles, LA County Asian American Employee Association, Together Against Crime Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Justice, Community Relations Service.